This is not your mother’s record label, but it sure is mine. In the early 90s, my mom, Annie Graves, started Illumin Records to independently release her own music. Twenty-seven years later, I’m resurrecting Illumin Records with a revitalized mission at the intersection of music, tech, and advocacy. Illumin redefines the role of record label for womxn and gnc led projects through education, transparency, empowerment, and a new deal structure that brings light to a historically opaque industry. My name is Jessa Graves, front woman of J. Graves, entrepreneur, and now founder of a multi-generational womxn-owned record label.
After self-releasing my own full-length record in 2019, it became very apparent that no definitive resource existed to help womxn and gnc artists release music and build sustainable music careers. In addition to the guidance gap, the music industry has historically been exploitative of artists, with little business structure innovation. My experience in the tech startup world gives me a unique lens, savvy, and approach to solving these problems, to establish a new and improved path forward with Illumin.
Illumin won’t operate as a traditional record label and won’t own any artist’s intellectual property - this is a pretty radical statement. Illumin is doing things differently and I believe it’s high time to do things differently. With education as a main focus, Illumin artists will follow and iterate on an artist accelerator framework called “WTR RISE”, developed in partnership with Women That Rock’s founder, Andie Aronow, adjunct professor at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU. This program and its components will be accessible to not only the label’s roster, but to Illumin Members. Anyone can learn from the label and get the support they need on their path.
The strategic partnership between Illumin and Women That Rock will grant the Illumin roster direct access to high-level artist management, development, marketing, mentorship, and support through all channels of WTR, the music discovery platform dedicated to supporting the best up-and-coming womxn in music, with live event production, marketing and promotion, digital media, presented tours, and a new licensing division.
My project J. Graves (Portland-based, passionate dance-punk trio recently featured on NPR’s all songs considered) will be the first to release on the label (Deathbed EP, October 2020). The first single, “Lo the Mourning” was released May 8th, 2020, in line with the launch of the label, and Mother’s Day weekend, as a surprise to my mom. Illumin will be working with two additional pilot artists in late 2020, Van Mary (Austin) and Egg Drop Soup (LA), both featured artists on the WTR platform.
Transparency is core to Illumin and crucial to the trust we will foster with artists and listeners alike. Legal documents will be codified and deployed on the Ethereum blockchain network (a decentralized, distributed, and public, digital ledger) that represents the epitome of visibility. No black boxes. No closed doors. Only truth and light. As Illumin grows, a white paper and public roadmap will be published that will be visible from the Illumin website.
If you want to learn more about Illumin or want to get involved, everyone is encouraged to visit illuminrecords.com to read more about the history and where we’re headed. Text LISTEN to 66866 to receive 6 Illumin recommended artists and stay connected as we move forward on this path together. You can always, always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org - I read every email.
Illumin is much more than my mother’s legacy and much more than a record label, Illumin is a movement. Illumin is a momentous shift from the way things used to be to the way things always should have been. We are disrupting the future of music. We are making our own rules. We are Illumin Records.
Guest Post by: Jessa Graves
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